Schools in California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified — will not reopen for in-person classes on August 18. The districts announced Monday that classes will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. The two school districts enroll around 825,000 students, and are the largest to reject even partial in-person classroom attendance for students.
“Those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control,” the two districts said in a joint statement.
The union representing teachers in L.A. Unified last week also called for school facilities to remain closed at the start of the school year, declaring it would not be safe to open them. A poll of the union’s members found that 83% of them were against reopening school campuses.
“Reopening schools will significantly increase the interaction between children and adults from different families. A 10 year old student might have a 30 year old teacher, a 50 year old bus driver or live with a 70 year old grandmother. All need to be protected. There’s a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish,” Los Angeles school district superintendent Austin Beutner said.
The announcement of going fully virtual came as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continued to press the Trump administration’s case to quickly reopen public schools.
“I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom, because we know for most kids, that’s the best environment for them,” Ms. DeVos said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
President Trump also threatened last week to cut off federal funding to schools that did not reopen their campuses.
The recommendations from the president and Ms. DeVos have been disputed by many public health officials and teachers. On Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and AASA, the School Superintendents Association issued a statement saying that reopening recommendations should be “based on evidence, not politics.”